Spring Care of Fruit Trees
Posted: April 29, 2012
The frosts during bloom have killed some blossoms before they were able to form a fruit. Other trees came through the frosts without significant losses. These trees will need to have the fruit thinned in order for the remaining fruit to develop properly. The rule of thumb for thinning peaches, pears and apples is to remove enough fruit so that the remaining fruit are about 8” apart. Plums should be thinned to about 4” apart. Cherries do not need to be thinned. The best time to thin is when the fruit is about the size of a nickel.
Now is the time to put a light application of fertilizer on your fruit trees. The goal is to have about 18” of new growth per season. If you had less than 18” of new growth last year, increase your fertilizer rate. If you had more than 18”, decrease your fertilizer rate. What fertilizer is best for fruit trees? The only way to know what your trees need is to get a soil test. A soil test every 3 to 5 years is sufficient for tree fruit. You can purchase a soil test kit from your county Penn State Extension office. Without a soil test, a best guess is to apply a complete fertilizer like 10-10-10. A better choice may be to use manure instead. Manure contributes fertilizer and increases the organic matter of your soil. A soil test will also tell you if your soil needs lime. The majority of soil test results come back recommending lime that is high in calcium.
It is also time to start protecting your fruit trees from pests. That is an article for another day.
For more information contact your local extension office. In Lackawanna County call 570-963-6842 or email LackawannaMG@psu.edu.
John Esslinger, Extension Educator
Penn State Cooperative Extension